A ceremony to donate money for the Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development in Rakhine (UEHRD) was held yesterday morning at the National Reconciliation and Peace Centre, where State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi accepted Ks17.77 billion donated by businesspersons.
The following are the words of donors and officials who were at the ceremony.
Dr. Aung Tun Thet, Chief Coordinator
“Our country can develop only through balanced cooperation of government, civil society organisations and private sectors. Today’s ceremony was held to honour the formation of a committee on Rakhine State and the implementation of a project as well as to honour the donors. Donation can be in any form. It can be in cash, in technology, even in a form of moral support. If we want our country to develop, succeed and be peaceful, people can donate what they can while businesses donate. We all need to try. At this age, while people are connected via internet facebook, can’t the people be organised through this? We are thinking about it. We need to thank today’s donors and recognise their ‘cetana’.
We have a population of 51 million. If each of the 51 million donates a hundred, thousand, ten thousand, the total will be substantial. It will not only be for development of the Rakhine region, but for development of the whole country. It will show support to the new government.
As the donors are honoured, others will be enticed to step forward and do likewise. The amount is not important in donating. I would like to tell youths to come together and help in this technically advanced age. We understand that youths wouldn’t have much money. But they have strong wills. Another important thing is to change the mindset. For the country to be peaceful, it must start with you yourself being peaceful. For yourself to be peaceful, all the youths need to have good will toward one another. They need to have patience with one another and must understand each other. Today’s work is the start of this journey. Look at how happy this occasion is. The other day, donors turn up immediately after Daw Aung San Suu Kyi opened the event.
As people watch this on TV, we hope to have more donations. Some youth may feel bad and insecure for being unable to donate money because they don’t have income. No, they can participate. For example, they can do so by their writings, by their thoughts.
When a person faces difficulty, it is a time of opportunity for that person. Difficulties faced by our country in the Rakhine region is an opportunity for our country. Don’t think of today’s donations being made by a single donor or an entity. This is solving on our own the problem the country is facing. It doesn’t mean we don’t need help from abroad. But the strength of a country lies within the country. This strength is not only the strength of the rich people or businesses. It is the strength of all the people. Every one of us needs to donate more or less within this week. We will use Facebook to make donations. People can individually say I can do this. Or I’ll do this in education, health etc. We want such responses”.
U Zaw Htay,
Director General, Ministry of State Counsellor’s Office
“I hosted a dinner where businesses were invited. They pledged to help. After their pledge, we arranged this donation ceremony. We explained about the programmes we will conduct in northern Rakhine State. They responded by offering to help in any way hey could.
There are three priority programmes. First is repatriation and resettlement. Second is reconstruction. Third is development. In her speech, the State Counsellor spoke of development and long-term avoidance of conflicts. The enterprise will conduct all three programmes. There is a central committee for the Rakhine region. It was formed to find a long term solution for Rakhine State. Meanwhile, as the events of 9 October 2016 and 25 August 2017 unfolded, additional committees required were formed. The committee of Dr. Win Myat Aye is to specifically implement the suggestions of two Rakhine commissions, the Kofi Annan Commission and the commission of Vice President U Myint Swe. There is a Central Committee. Above it all, the international community is insisting on involvement in using their money. For example, UN organisations and INGOs are proposing to participate. Businesses and people are offering to participate. On top of it, the State Counsellor assessed the situation and formed an enterprise to involve local, foreign and government in the matter.
Priority works conducted by each committee are different from one another. A substantial amount was budgeted by the government. On top of this, the intention was to conduct an international-level of work and thus donations were being accepted. The guideline of the State Counsellor was to have a border fence of international standard. We will strive toward this.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister and party will come on 23 October. There will be a meeting with Myanmar Minister for Home Affairs and high ranking officials on 23 October. Ministerial level meeting will be held on 24 October. When Union Minister U Kyaw Tint Swe went to Bangladesh, the discussion was based on the 1993 agreement. Based on this, Bangladesh made an agreement proposal. Our government had two meetings on this and the second one was held yesterday. A final draft was achieved. This had been submitted to the State Counsellor. Amendments made by the State Counsellor will be finalised when the Bangladesh minister visits. Based on the discussion, an agreement will be signed. Discussions need to be made with Bangladesh on the terms and conditions of accepting repatriation. Once the agreement is signed, there’ll be a time frame for repatriation. We have a list made by Rakhine State government. There is also a list of the remaining people. Comparing these lists, there is a difference to the UNHCR’s announcement of more than 500,000 to 600,000. All will be reviewed. After the review, the repatriation will be as conducted in 1993. Once the review is conducted, the number to be accepted will be known. Special funds, as well as ordinary budget is used. Donations will also be used.”
Dr. Khin Shwe,
I put up Ks1 billion. My daughter put up Ks350 million. U Aung Ko Win put in Ks3 billion. U Kyaw Win Ks1 billion. Rakhine State must be defended. Arrangements to raise chickens, pigs, ducks, goats and cows need to be made for the livelihood of the people in the region. Factories and garment factories need to be constructed. Infrastructure is another thing. The Mayyu Mountain range is difficult to cross. Roads need to be laid.
The government needs money to do this on its own. Businesses are in this on the same page as the government. Democracy must not be lost. So is the Rakhine region and border land at the border with Bangladesh. The government needs to set up firm plans and all have a plan to work together starting from the required money”.